Spic­ing up Chris­tian­ity

Former Sporty Spice high­lights re­vival, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - SHOWS -

IF Mary Mag­da­lene, ar­guably the orig­i­na­tor of girl power, found her way into Mel C’s pop group she would be given the name Feisty Spice.

Sporty Me­lanie Chisholm plays the gutsy, ul­ti­mately grief-stricken, Bi­b­li­cal char­ac­ter in the mu­si­cal spec­tac­u­lar Je­sus Christ Su­per­star.

‘‘She’s pretty feisty and I think she’s prob­a­bly got cer­tain char­ac­ter­is­tics of all the Spice Girls,’’ Chisholm says.

‘‘She has quite a trans­for­ma­tion through­out Je­sus Christ Su­per­star, so like all women I’d say she has many dif­fer­ent sides.’’

Chisholm’s Mary wears a leather jacket and dread­locks in keep­ing with the 21st cen­tury theme of An­drew Lloyd Web­ber’s re­boot, which reaches Aus­tralian are­nas in May fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful UK tour.

Also star­ring Tim Minchin as Ju­das and Bri­tish re­al­ity show win­ner Ben Forster as Je­sus, the show is set in mod­ern times to a live sound­track of gospel, rock and pop. The dis­ci­ples ap­pear as Oc­cupy move­ment pro­test­ers who air their griev­ances on Twit­ter, while the vil­lain­ous Ro­mans are cor­po­rate thieves who dress in suits.

Mary tries to heal a grow­ing chasm in ide­ol­ogy be­tween two highly strung pro­tag­o­nists.

‘‘There is so much ag­gres­sion and con­fronta­tion be­tween Je­sus and Ju­das,’’ Chisholm says.

‘‘And what’s lovely with this show and the songs that Mary sings is that she’s very much the calm­ing in­flu­ence.’’

No stranger to mu­si­cal the­atre, hav­ing re­cently en­joyed a West End stint in Blood Brothers and a solo al­bum of mu­si­cal stan­dards, Chisholm was part of Je­sus Christ Su­per­star from the be­gin­ning. A judge on the Bri­tish tal­ent se­ries Su­per­star, she helped cast Forster in the lead role and was in­vited by Lord Lloyd Web­ber to join the cast.

A per­for­mance art grad­u­ate from Liver­pool, an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of mu­si­cal the­atre was in Chisholm’s blood long be­fore she joined the Spice Girls.

‘‘I’ve come full cir­cle really and it’s lovely to be ac­cepted into the the­atre world, es­pe­cially coming from a pop back­ground,’’ she says.

The last Aus­tralia Je­sus Christ Su­per­star tour in 1992 was at­tended by a record 987,000 peo­ple over 82 nights and grossed more than $40 mil­lion.

Aus­tralian tal­ent on the up­dated ver­sion will in­clude Deal Or No Deal pre­sen­ter An­drew O’Keefe, who ap­pears briefly as a gameshow host com­edy hy­brid of King Herod.

Rocker Jon Stevens is set to step up as the vil­lain Pon­tius Pi­late, more than 20 years af­ter he starred along­side John Farn­ham in the role of Ju­das.

‘‘The first time I got to sell Je­sus out and now I get to kill him,’’ Stevens says. ‘‘That’s what hap­pens over 20 years.’’

Je­sus Christ Su­per­star tours from May 31 to June 15. Go to tick­etek.com.au to book.

An­drew O’Keefe, Jon Stevens, Me­lanie Chisholm and Ben Forster

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